The end of the Line.

Today’s FDR (Sa 03/09/2016) is 2 Kings 25 and Colossians 1:24 – 2:5.

Wow, what a finish.  Israel crashes and burns dramatically!

Death and destruction.  Not once, but again and again until all is desolate.

A few Israelites have run away to Egypt.  Most are dead.  Murdered at the hand of the Chief of Butchers, called Nebuzaradan.  The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar has already been and wiped out the Zedekiah’s family because he rebelled against Babylon.  Most of the people are taken away.  Other members of the rebellion against Babylon are taken out and executed.  The city is pulled down to the ground, the Temple stripped and demolished. Only a few poor people are left under the supervision of Babylon appointed officials.

With the execution of Zedekiah’s sons and wives the David line is put to an end.  God’s promise to always have a descendent of David on the throne seems broken.

The history of a nation chosen to be God’s special people has come full circle.  Escape from slavery in Egypt and here at the end of 2 Kings a band of escapees return to Egypt.  Perhaps no better off than before their predecessors left with the crossing of the Red Sea with Moses in the lead.

What went wrong?

God’s judgement has been executed on Israel.

All those Kings we’ve been reading and reading and reading about.  Many unable to keep the Lord’s commands and walk His pathway.  A few who served and loved the Lord with great passion.  Some too who, though loving the Lord, sinned and sought His forgiveness.  These who sought God’s forgiveness, received it.  Yet in the balance, God exercised His terrible judgement on His disobedient and hard hearted people.

 

Looking briefly at the Colossians passage we see an Apostle, in prison, writing to a church he has not visited.  Paul was writing to direct the church back to the true path and away from the teachings of mystics and possibly some Jews. People that were embellishing the truth of Christ with lies and distracting people from knowing God and His son, Jesus.

Sounds a bit like some of the 1 and 2 Kings passages we’ve read in the last months.

And so both these passages stand in stark warning to you and I that we are to keep to the truth and walk the narrow path of Christ, our risen Lord and not stray off it.

This morning as you pray with us between 7am and 9am in the Church Foyer and worship with us at your service tomorrow take the opportunity to ask God to challenge you to walk in His path for you and not stray. Also please pray for us all that we will do the same and be true to God’s love for us in all we do and say.

Glenn

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Promises renewed yet broken – 2 Kings 23.1-30

Josiah reads the covenant and all the people pledge to follow the Lord again – v1-3

The book of the law has just been found. Josiah the Kings response is to read it to all the people of Judah. I imagine this would have been an amazing moment for the people. So much of their current situation would have made sense as well as challenged the way they were existing as the people of God. Josiah renewed the covenant and his people followed. 

The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

2 Kings 23.3

Renewing the covenant means to reaffirm the people’s response to God. God did not need to reaffirm the covenant as he has maintained his faithfulness to Israel and Judah. It the Israel and Judah who have been unfaithful 
Renewing the covenant is followed by action of removing sources of broken worship – v4-20

Josiah leads his people in renewing the covenant and apart of that renewing is to purify their worship to the one only Yahweh. The unfaithfulness of Judah was evidenced in their actions and sourced from the misplaced worship. They had put other gods in the place of Yahweh which had led to their actions of disobedience. Josiahs response to the renewing of the covenant to go through all the temples, high places, and altars and remove the objects of worship that were not of the Lord. He is purifying the places where God is with them and where they go to meet him. Particular emphasis is given to the temple as the centre of worship.

This section is extensive in its description but is making one simple point. Being apart of a covenant with God means worshipping him alone.  

Return to celebration of the Passover – a covenant of God with his people – v21-23

Josiah also reinstitutes the Passover meal which served as a reminder of Gods act of salvation in Exodus. God saved the people to be his people. He moved them from slavery to the freedom of being his people. The Passover served as a consistent reminder and celebration of their past salvation and present situation. 

The Lords anger still burned against the people of God

Despite all that Josiah changes the damage has been done. The unfaithfulness of Gods people cannot be undone by simply going back to the way it was. There is still a punishment to be paid, still a jarring history of the covenant. 

For us Now 

In Jesus we have a renewed covenant – we have a renewed promise of Gods relationship with us. Jesus is the one who has kept the law and thus we are brought into the covenant by the blessing of his obedience and our trust in him

In Jesus we are given a Holy Spirit to remove the sources of broken worship in us – just like the temple we have obstacles for worship that need to be removed from our hearts as temples of the Holy Spirit

In Jesus we celebrate the Lords supper reminding each other of Gods covenant to us – we have a reminder of our past salvation and our present status as Gods children. 

In Jesus the Lords anger is taken by our King so that we can live the freedom of his Lordship – the end of the story is different for us. Gods anger is taken on by Jesus. He pays the punishment for us. Their is nothing left for us to pay. Jesus is the king that Judah needed. 

Think on such things

Today’s FDR is from 2 Kings 22 and Philippians 4:1-9.

Our Old Testament reading today comes as somewhat of a relief. Israel once again has a King who ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’. King Josiah’s predecessors Manasseh and Amon were particularly detestable and led Israel into sin. By contrast, the young King reads the ‘book of the law’ and realises how much Israel has turned their back on God and rightly discerns that God’s wrath is ‘kindled against us’ – which is subsequently confirmed by Huldah’s prophecy of impending doom. Josiah’s response is detailed in tomorrow’s reading but for today perhaps we can sit with the knowledge that our God takes our sin seriously. Seriously enough to make the ultimate sacrifice in Jesus to bring us back into relationship with him.

Our New Testament reading encourages the Philippians to stand firm and to let our lives be characterised by peace. There are so many practical encouragements included in this passage,

  • Stand firm (v1)
  • Rejoice in the Lord (v4)
  • Be gentle/reasonable to everyone (v5)
  • Do not be anxious (v6)
  • Prayer earnestly with thanksgiving (v6)
  • Think about praiseworthy things (v8)
  • Practice the Godly life (v9)

I am particularly interested that Paul encourages the Philippians to fill their minds with pure, lovely, excellent and commendable things. It would appear that both Paul and ourselves live in a world that is intent on filling our lives with depraved superficiality – it is all too easy to allow our minds to fill up with rubbish (just turn on the TV). We would do well to hear Paul’s exhortation and deliberatley focus on those things which bring our gaze back to Christ.

THIS IS A BLACK DAY, A TERRIBLE DAY—DOOMSDAY!

Hezekiah was one of the few kings of Judah who was constantly aware of God’s acts in the past and His involvement in the events of every day. The Bible describes Hezekiah as a king who had a close relationship with God, one who did “what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God” (2 Chronicles 31:20).

In 701 BC, Hezekiah and all of Judah faced a crisis – as the Message version paraphrases 2 Kings 19:3 “This is a black day, a terrible day—doomsday!”. The Assyrians, the dominant world power at the time, had invaded Judah and were marching against Jerusalem. The Assyrians had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and many other nations, and now they threatened Judah (2 Kings 18:13). In their threats against the city of Jerusalem, the Assyrians openly defied the God of Judah; likening Him to the powerless gods of the nations they had conquered (2 Kings 18:28–35; 19:10–12).

In today’s OT reading from 2 Kings 19:1-19, Hezekiah when confronted with the realisation that his misguided alliances had only provoked the Assyrians, saw the situation for what it really was he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth – an expression of deep mourning and repentance. He received the threats from King Sennacherib’s minion Rabshakeh seriously, knowing how dedicated his enemy was to completely conquering Jerusalem.

Often when we are in some kind of trial or difficulty, we handle it poorly because we never see the situation accurately. Jerusalem’s situation was desperate and Hezekiah knew it.

Hezekiah’s second reaction was even better – he went into the house of the Lord. He did not allow his mourning and grief to spin him into a rejection of the Lord’s power and help. He knew this was a more necessary time than ever to seek the Lord.

And thirdly, he sought out the word of the Lord, given through the prophet Isaiah. Hezekiah knew that their only hope was that God would take offense at the blasphemies of Rabshakeh and rise up against him.

Isaiah’s reply was a message of reassurance – “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumour and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.”

When Rabshakeh left Jerusalem and finds his king warring against Libnah, it must have seemed to Hezekiah to be the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise through the prophet Isaiah. Hezekiah must have thought, “Now he’ll go back to his own land and be killed, just like the Lord promised. Good riddance! Thank You Lord!”

But that didn’t stop Rabshaken from trying to build fear, discouragement, and despair in Hezekiah by sending his envoys to deliver a letter to the king of Judah attacking him from a distance. In verse 14, Hezekiah reacts to this second letter in a different manner. He didn’t go to Isaiah. He went to the temple and prayed alone, taking his plea directly to the Lord. 

We shall see as we read on we will learn how the Lord mightly answers Hezekiah’s prayer.

Religion or Relationship?

Today’s readings are 2 Kings 16:1-17:6 and Philipians 1:1-11.

In this small summary of Ahaz’s rule we learn that he did not trust the living God, but rather, when Syria and Israel joined forces to attack Judah and Jerusalem, Ahaz trusted instead to the power of a foreign kingdom, submitting his rule and his kingdom as vassals to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, giving the silver and gold from the Lord’s temple as a gift to the foreign king. Continue reading

Appearance of Godliness yet not – 2 Kings 14 

Text observations In this chapter we see the continuing comings and goings of the kings of Israel and Judah. What is clear is that the main issue has remained the issue – they do not love God above all else. They continue to allow mixed worship among their people. 

In this chapter we meet a king called Amaziah. He seems to start well because he does all that is right in the eyes of the Lord. However, a distinction is made here as Amaziah is doing the right thing he still let’s the people worship and sacrifice to other gods. Such an interesting distinction. He does the right thing but he does not worship and lead the people to worship the right way. His actions are righteous but his heart is still in misplaced worship.  

This plays out in an interesting way. He goes into battle and seems to do really well. To all appearances it seems the Lord is with him. Then he goes to fight Israel and he loses badly. It is at this point that his credentials as a King God wants are questioned again. He does the right things but is he walking with the Lord. For he attacks Israel whom we find later in the chapter (14.27) has not been given over to destruction by God. Amaziah attacking Israel is kind of like a sibling trying to destroy their brother or sister. God is for them both. Amaziah is not walking with the Lord – he might be doing the right things but his heart is not for the Lord and eventually his actions reveal his heart. 

Application 

I am challenged by Amaziah having the appearance of Godliness but a heart worshipping other things. His actions and pride eventually reveal the truth. It helps me to question my heart and who I am worshipping. Am I really seeking the glory of God or actually the glory of myself? I can be deceptive to myself of my motivations and desires. I pray that God would reveal to me the true desires of my heart so that I may see clearly how o am glorifying the Lord. I pray that we might not just do the right things but that we would worship the Lord in Spirit and truth. Most of all I am thankful for a King whose actions matched his heart, who did not deceive but in all things glorified God. For in Jesus we all receive the blessing of his kingship. He is the one who dies to destroy any other places of worship that are not him. He is our replacement for anything we might out in place of the Lord

2 Kings 2.1-18 – Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah? 

I apologise for my lateness. 

As I read this story of Gods people a few things catch my attention- 

  • I love Elisha’s persistence. No matter how often Elijah tells him to go away he repeats that he will never leave him. I am sure there is some more theological insight into this, however, I simply enjoy the idea that Elisha knows where the action is at. He isn’t going home. He knows who God is working in and he isn’t going to leave that mans side. 
  • Elisha asks for a double portion of the Spirit of Elijah. Elisha has witnessed the miracles of Elijah. He has seen the power of God in him. He has seen this power and he wants double that. This part of the story could read negatively to mean the selfishness of Elisha. However, we see in v14 that when Elisha seeks double the spirit he is seeking the Lord. He is seeking to have the Lord with him like the Spirit of God was with Elijah. Elisha’s hunger is not for more power but for more of God. I feel like I ask for as much of God in my life as I am happy to give him of my life. I am happy to pray for somethings and others I practically don’t bring God into the situation. I pray that my desire for the Spirit of God would over come the limits my sinful nature. I pray that I would ask God for a double portion of him so that he might I dwell and shape every part of my life, not simply the areas I think I need help with. 
  • In v15 I love seeing the transfer from Elijah to Elisha. I love seeing how the people recognised it because of Elisha’s likeness in action to that of Elijah. I am challenged by the thought of who I represent by my actions. Who do people think I belong to, trust in, fight for, love for based on my actions? Do my actions reveal a changed heart or disguise it?  Is my life caught in the grace of Jesus or limited by my fear and pride? When people see me do they see the Spirit of the one who went before me? Do they see the Spirit of Jesus manifesting change in my every being? Filling with untouchable joy and never ending hope to love in unqualified love of those around me? I pray that just as they say of Elisha that he has the Spirit of Elijah, I pray people would be able to say of me and our church community that the Spirit of Jesus is in that place.